…Back Again

I was looking forward to my Body Attack class for Tuesday evening, right up until Marayong on the train. I pick up my laptop backpack and have a telltale twinge in my back that I’ve come to respect as a sign to straighten up and pray it’s not too late to avert certain doom.

Although the evening takes a different course from the one I had planned, I don’t think anything more of it. Two episodes of House, M.D. – “It’s not Lupus”, and a failed attempt at doing some work (dev environment in some inconsistent state I couldn’t figure out right then), and feeling very weary by 9:30pm. I go to bed early.

I spend an hour doing that thing where you have audio playing that you think you’re actually listening intently to, staving off sleep… but then you startle awake and realise you’ve missed the first two questions-and-answers of the Writing Excuses podcast, and you just cannot bring yourself to fiddle with the controls to reset it to the start. I take it as a sign I should actually sleep and turn the audio off altogether.

At 3am, I know I am going to be in trouble. I wake up flat on my back, and my back has seized up completely. I have a 15 minute internal dialogue with myself about what to do next. I consider staying flat, but my back is feeling very uncomfortable. I consider rolling over but am dreading the feeling of using my shoulders to push myself around. I consider getting up to go to the toilet; damn, bladder full as well, just what I need.

No matter the circumstances, I almost never forget to think ahead.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed, and somehow manage to swivel myself into a sitting position with minimal use of my back or shoulders. First, I switch off the alarm on my phone, because I doubt I’ll wake up at 6:30am this morning, and even if I do, I know I’m not going to be nimble enough to dive for the alarm in a timely fashion when it eventually rings. Then, I go to the toilet and seriously consider whether I can sleep upright to limit the tension in my back. Clearly 3am is not a time for reasoned arguments.

For the remainder of the night, I alternate rolling onto my left and right sides with long stretches on my back. Each time waiting until the discomfort grows to a level where it overcomes my fear of the twinges that’ll run through my back when I go for a roll. Adding to that, putting my top arm in front or behind my body is immediately punished with stabs along my arm and shoulder blade, and it makes for an interesting night of careful balance in a half-sleep-state.

I don’t even consider going to work when I finally get up at about 7:15. I leave a message to my team-lead and start working out what I can do to speed my recovery up.

Luckily, it turns out the place I get my massages has a free slot at 10am still, so I book that in first, and then head to the doctors’ office down the road after a shower that takes me to their opening hours.

I bring my Kindle to try and read, but holding it up hurts my shoulder, and balancing it on my knee hurts my neck. I uncomfortably read half a chapter by holding it resting on the top of my knee with my neck slightly tilted and my eyes rolled down. I’m sure I look like a bad version of the Mona Lisa. It feels odd. It still feels uncomfortable.

Luckily the waiting room is practically empty. I try to look at the people in the waiting room with me, but my head doesn’t want to turn further than 45 degrees either side. I stare at the morning shows on the television. I stare through the inane dialogue.

I get a prescription for rest and some Panadeine Forte.

I head out to my massage and arrive 30 minutes early, so I read uncomfortably some more, after taking 2 tablets. Three-quarters through the chapter my head feels swimmy and it feels like reality is my imagination. Deep breath. I fail to read further and listen to a podcast instead.

Getting a massage with Codeine in my system proves an interesting experience. I can feel all the knots, but none of the pain. It is surreal, but far from unpleasant.

I feel relaxed and less sore right now, still a little detached, and absolutely determined to take carrying my backpack properly more seriously. It occurs to me that all those times I traveled to Melbourne and had back aches afterwards probably had little to do with the hotel beds, but everything with the fact I carry my luggage on my right shoulder only. It doesn’t feel heavy to my brain, but clearly my muscles privately have a different opinion. I’ll listen to them more from now on.

Day 303 – Running from Something

63 – 100 Beginner Running Tips

Cardio is terrible and I hate running.

I don’t even run from the back of the treadmill; I prefer to set it to 6km/h and just walk for 30 minutes while letting my mind drift. I never got the hang of running. I’ve heard say how great the runners high is, but it doesn’t sound quite enough to make it worth it. Marathon runners say the same things about the joy of having your toenails fall off, so I guess that puts the matter into some perspective.
Continue reading Day 303 – Running from Something

Day 284 – Last Chance to See

82 – 100 Places to Go Before They Disappear

I have been over-ambitious, but I don’t care.

I’ve had the past week off, and I have gone to a few extra gym classes during that time. I think I have totalled 8-9 for the week compared to my more usual 5-6. I was going to round it out with my usual double this morning.

My first class was trouble… the instructor wasn’t feeling well, and she was heading home thereby about to miss the second class I normally take with her. I think she decided the right way to compensate for this loss was to double the effort in the first class. And I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice as it happened.

It dawned on me that there was a problem when the treadmill between classes felt tougher than it usually does. Although I may not have had legs at that point. I cannot be sure.

I tried to get through the second class with the fill-in, but about halfway through I had no upper-body strength left, and my lower back was aching. It made me concerned over locking up my back again, so I did some extra stretches and quit early.

Now, that’d have been a fine amount of exercise to fill the day with.

But I wasn’t done yet.

By about noon I arrived at Wet’n’Wild. You see… this is the last weekend of the season. Last Chance to Slide. Although I worried it would be a bit cold, the weather was actually fairly cooperative even if the water was not.

I spent 4.5 hours having fun and freezing by turns.
But it was completely worth it.

I tried wading into the lagoon while I was waiting for friends to show, but I quickly gave up. The water was like ice on my legs. I did the thing where you take slow inching steps forward, but I didn’t make it to waist-depth before giving up, afraid.

The big redeeming factor in a water-slide is that you make the commitment to plunge into icy water long before you actually get there. It’s far enough removed that I could rationalise why it was going to be fine… and then once in the slide there is no turning back. An inevitable conclusion.

And the reason I kept going back for more… once you’re doused in icy water, standing in the free air that is a few degrees warmer than the water makes you feel that it’s really not that bad after all.

We managed to do a last run of almost all the slides. Definitely all the ones that were worth doing. Except for the what-do-you-mean-people-got-back-injuries-off-it-Bombora. With my lower-back pain I wasn’t game to tempt fate with that particular jarring drop. I made do with the Half-Pipe which is almost as big a drop, but a much smoother gradient.

I’ll miss the park for the next 4 months.
But I have my fingers crossed that my entry in their feedback-form suggesting they add a floating bar in the lagoon is worthy of a free membership for 2014-15. Because I’ll totally do it all again through summer.

Day 251 – Downpour

I considered not going in this morning. I woke up with a seized-up left shoulder; I’m pretty sure I did that in the last hour of my sleep because I remember being okay the last time I rolled over before waking up. Agony!

Today however our new(ish) CIO was supposed to come to the office for another visit, and there was a celebration for a major project that was completed exceptionally successfully. I felt an obligation to be in. And for the most part it wasn’t actually too bad. By about noon my shoulder was mostly easing up.

The mid-morning celebration for the project had involved copious quantities of pastries and snacks, so I was not feeling too hungry. However, when my fellow-manager was heading out for lunch I thought it might be wise to get some opportunistic food as well. I hadn’t intended to head out, but with the downpour outside I couldn’t make him walk through the rain, so we drove.

As bad as the rain was on the way out, it was worse on the way back in.

I don’t mind rain. There is nothing better than getting drenched on the way home to a nice hot shower.

There is nothing worse than spending an afternoon in drenched demin. While it was wet, it was freezing my legs to the bones. When it started to dry, it felt like sandpaper against my legs. There is really no winning with wet demin. Luckily I had my superfluous gym-bag with me, because switching t-shirts felt really good. Last thing I’d want with my sprained back is the start of a cough.

I think tomorrow I’ll bring a home-made lunch to protect my back.

Day 201 – End and Beginning

I feel spacey.

A little like I’m drugged.

Extrapolating from an earlier step-count, I am guessing that today involved around 70k-80k steps. My legs hurt. My ass hurts. My brain does not care. It was too much fun.

Back to work tomorrow.

I have no idea how I will go.

I’m going to crash into turbulent dreams shortly. I will wake, most definitely sore, possibly incapable of movement. If I make it out of bed, work will be interesting. If I make it to 4pm without crashing I’ll be happy.

I guess I need a day to catch up with 3 weeks of email triage.

I have no idea what awaits.

If I did, I don’t know that it’d make any difference.

Day 142 – Tube of Pure Evil

I had an accidental involuntary chemical peel on my back.
This does not usually happen.

Most of the time Dencorub is an amazing way to soothe sore and knotted muscles into relaxing. Yesterday night it helped soothe the knots that were the cause of my migraine, meaning today I could actually function. It seemed like a great idea to add another helping.

One of the key ingredients of Dencorub is menthol.

The menthol isn’t always evenly distributed.

A dose that works brilliantly one day may be weak the next, or…

It started really well. The slow building cool burn felt great. And then it failed to stop getting colder. It started biting into my shoulders. Abbey helpfully got a wet cloth to rub off the excess.

It felt great at first.

And then the cloth came away and my shoulders felt like they were blistering. So into the shower I went. It took three rounds of soap and rinsing before enough of the rub had come off. And it was still uncomfortably chilly and bitey. But at least it has settled down now.

I need to find a better remedy, because Dencorub is just too mercurial for me.